OTTAWA — Brett Galletti has been anticipating the kickoff to the upcoming season for months.
“Football’s my love,” he said, “and I was even excited going into just the (informational) meeting (last May). I was like, ‘Hey, I’m ready to do this; I’m ready for football to start.’
“I’m super excited. You know, I really want to see what’s going to happen this year.”
The junior signal-caller is ready to lead the Ottawa Pirates and compete.
“As a group, I think we’ve really worked well together,” Ottawa coach Chad Gross said, “and I think a lot of that starts with the quarterback. Brett definitely has taken a big step forward just in the offseason with the amount of work he puts in, and he’s starting to see the rewards.
“You know, I’ve put a lot on his shoulders this summer — and it’s been a lot of, ‘Don’t ask me, ask Brett; Brett’s your leader in the huddle’ — and it’s things that last year if I had asked him to do, I don’t know if they would have got done. But this year, it’s a different kid, and he just has really embraced that (leadership) role and is really starting to grow. I would say confidence is his biggest thing right now.
“And he’s become so much stronger this offseason, that it’s really increased his velocity, which has increased his ability also to move out of the pocket and throw the ball on the run a little bit better. So I think he’s going to be a well-rounded quarterback.”
“It was a good offseason (for the team), in my opinion. I felt like things just went a lot smoother,” Galletti said. “We’ve put a lot of work in and got a lot out of it.
“I’m a lot more confident. My mindset is to go out there and compete, show everyone what I can do, because I’ve put so much work in, and I know the team has too. So I’m just hungry to get out there, getting out there and being a leader on the field and performing at a high level.”
During his varsity debut campaign in 2018, Galletti endured the expected lows, but also had some highs. He completed just under 43% of his passes (66 of 154) for 714 yards with two touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“Definitely just the speed of the game, and just the more complexities that go into an offense like we ran — and against bigger schools — that was something that I definitely had to get used to. It was definitely a step up,” from playing at Class 1A Marquette his freshman season, said Galletti, who after the season went back through nearly every game and broke the film down.
“I mean, I think that experience has helped me immensely. (The game has) definitely slowed down. I’m so much more comfortable this year.”
“I think last year he was in a very difficult spot,” Gross said. “It was his first time as a varsity starter, and he was at a new school with a new coaching staff; it was all a big challenge for him.
“I felt like we threw a lot at a kid that did not have any varsity starts under his belt. He was unfortunately having to learn on the job a lot of the time with how good some of those (opposing) schools were. As we set the game plan back to kind of find Brett’s strengths, I think that’s when he started to really settle in and really just start to understand what we were trying to do. You know, when he started to get the ball out on time, he had some games he threw for a good amount of yards.
“I think this summer things have really slowed down for him, and he’s able to diagnose defenses and make the throws like he’s supposed to be. I think he understands what to do, and I think he will execute at a high level.”
In addition to briefly working with Russ DeVerteuil on his agility, Galletti makes trips to Hinsdale and Riverside-Brookfield High School throughout the year to train with quarterback guru Jeff Christensen — someone he’s been going to since seventh grade — of Chicago-based Throw It Deep Academy.
“What I’m teaching (Brett) to do is throw the ball with perfect technique,” said Christensen, a former NFL QB who has tutored 47 NFL quarterbacks — 35 currently, including reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes.
“Now, he’s really starting to progress, because he’s finally got some physical strength and muscle mass, and now his body and body structure can generate power and quickness, and so now the ball’s coming out of his hand like it should be.”
Christensen believes Galletti possesses all the requirements to be a QB at the next level: talent, accuracy, competitiveness, leadership, size potential (Galletti is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds), and a quiet, deep desire to be a great player.
“He’s got enough potential where he could be a starting quarterback at Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois, possibly Northern Illinois, the MAC (Mid-American Conference) possibly — as of this minute,” Christensen said. “Now, there’s another place for him to go, and I think he can do it, but he has to work for it, which I have had no reason to believe he won’t.
“He’s got a great future.”
Last spring/this summer was all about exposure for Galletti. He attended college camps at Concordia, Iowa State, Lindenwood, North Central and Northern Illinois, while also taking part in underclass showcases put on by Matt Lemming and Tim O’Halloran, better known as EdgyTim.
“I just learned to compete. You know, just to go out there and sling it,” Galletti said of the camp circuit. “I’d see who some of the top QBs were, and I’d get right in line behind them, and I would just try to do my best to compete with them, and I was (throwing right) with them.”
“(Brett) was one of the better players (at the Matt Lemming Prep Insider Underclass Showcase), obviously. He was one of the kids that you knew could get a scholarship if he keeps improving,” said renowned recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, who in October will have been in the business 41 years and currently works for CBS after previously doing so for ESPN, “because he showed the athletic ability, and he’s got decent size. His dad’s a lot bigger than him, so I would imagine he’s going to keep growing. He’s got a real good arm and a quick release, very accurate passer. He runs well. He’s a team leader. He’s smart, an ‘A’ student. (Galletti carries a 4.6 GPA.)
“So he’s got everything that you look for in a quarterback, all the intangibles that fit into being a real good quarterback. So now it’s just a matter of having a great 2019 season.”
Tom Lemming has Galletti ranked as the No. 3 quarterback in the Land of Lincoln’s Class of 2021 behind Nazareth Academy’s J.J. McCarthy (committed to Michigan) and Antioch’s Athan Kaliakmanis (Minnesota).
“(Brett has) got tremendous potential,” Lemming said. “He’s got the bloodlines to become a big-time player. (Galletti’s father, Mike, was an offensive lineman at Wisconsin, while his mother, Renae Paul, was a distance runner at Illinois.) And, obviously the tools are there.
“It’s just a matter of performance now.”
Galletti is on the verge of the most vital stage of his recruiting process.
“Junior year, that’s when all the colleges really check you out, and that’s when a lot of the offers come in,” Lemming said. “The camps did him well, and now the second piece of the puzzle is the actual season. But he’s put himself in position to have a lot of schools looking at him.
“I think if he has a real good season, he can go Division I; he’ll go (Division) I level, I think, either (FBS) or (FCS), because he’s talented enough to play at those spots.”
Galletti is receiving interest from Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Concordia and Wartburg.
“I definitely strive to play at the highest level; that’s what I’ve set my mind to,” Galletti said.
“I’ve set my goal for Division I.”
Gross believes Galletti is going to have a “monster” season, as does the quarterback himself.
“If Brett performs like he has all summer, I think it could be a record-setting year for an Ottawa quarterback,” Gross said. “Honestly, I would not be shocked if Brett’s a 1,000-yard passer this season. (The last Ottawa QB to do that was Mike Cassidy in 1982.) I think we can get double-digit touchdowns.
“I definitely think Brett can have one of the best seasons that we’ve had by an Ottawa quarterback in a long time.”
“Obviously, team wins (Ottawa was winless in 2018), that’s a big thing,” Galletti said.
“Thirty total touchdowns this season, that’s my goal to go out there and get.”